Tom Jackman, Washington Post, May 27, 2020
Police chiefs across the United States, many of whom have been pushing their officers to de-escalate tense situations and decrease their use of force, responded with disgust Wednesday to the death of George Floyd after an encounter with Minneapolis officers and moved to reassure their communities that they would not tolerate such brutality.
In years past, police officials probably would have called for full, time-consuming investigations and patience from angry citizens until all the facts were in. Not this time.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo fired four officers within 24 hours, and the heads of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Major Cities Chiefs Association promptly issued statements of support for that move and denounced the prolonged suffocation of Floyd captured on cellphone video and soon streamed around the world.
“The death of Mr. Floyd is deeply disturbing and should be of concern to all Americans,” said the Major Cities Chiefs, headed by Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. “The officers’ actions are inconsistent with the training and protocols of our profession and MCCA commends Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo for his swift and decisive action to terminate the employment of the officers involved.”
Steven R. Casstevens, head of the IACP and chief of the Buffalo Grove, Ill., department, expressed his sympathy to Floyd’s family.
“Law enforcement officers are trained to treat all individuals, whether they are a complainant, suspect, or defendant, with dignity and respect,” Casstevens said in a statement. “This is the bedrock principle behind the concepts of procedural justice and police legitimacy.”
Casstevens added, “No single incident should define an agency or the profession. As police leaders, we must be willing to question and denounce actions that are wrong so as to continue to build trust within our communities.”
In Miami, Police Chief Jorge Colina issued a video statement on Twitter saying he was “deeply disturbed by what we saw on that video. I stand with Chief Arradondo of the Minneapolis Police Department with the swift action he took once he was made aware of that video.”
“There’ll be a tendency for people to look at that horrible video and say, ‘Nothing has changed,’ ” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum, which trains police departments nationwide in de-escalation techniques. “And that is so wrong. So much has changed in policing.”
Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus tweeted that the video showed an “indefensible use of force that good officers everywhere are appalled by. … Conduct like this anywhere makes it more difficult for police everywhere to build community trust.”
Jim Burch, president of the National Police Foundation, said in an email that “the video we’ve all now seen is distressing and hard for anyone to watch. … These actions, and inaction, jeopardize the gains that have been made through the sacrifices and courage of many. While the full investigation may reveal additional details and facts that are unknown to most of us today, we should all come together in agreement that the glimpse we have into this encounter is not consistent with the oath that officers take or the courage and integrity that the vast majority display each and every day.”
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore told The Post, “The lack of compassion, use of excessive force, or going beyond the scope of the law, doesn’t just tarnish our badge — it tears at the very fabric of race relations in this country. Law enforcement strives each day to build trust and this event is a sobering reminder of how quickly that can be lost.”